Is birth control ok in life threatening situations


Hypothetical came up in RCIA, if married woman is on a medication (post cancer) that would cause severe birth defects and endanger the life of the mother if she got pregnant, and, because of the medication, her ovulation cycle is impossible to determine, can a contraceptive that does not allow fertilization such as a condom be used or will the couple have to abstain for the rest of her life? The couple can no longer be open to life as is required by their marital vow because to do so would be catastrophic to mother and child should she conceive. Would the answer be different if the medication was required for only 10 years rather than for the rest of her life?


Abstinence is the only moral option. Difficult but it is the Catholic teaching.


Every act must be ordered toward procreation.

If pregnancy is that dangerous, I know I would not risk it and would abstain.


Hi. We recently discussed this very issue.

Maybe have a read through this first.


Contraception is never allowed for the intention of preventing life, not even when the mother’s life would be in danger if she got pregnant. The only moral option for preventing life, as said before, would be to just not have sex.


Natural birth control is highly effective. So I still don’t see the need. But as natural and artificial birth control are not 100% effective abstinence may be best depending on the risk of the health for child and mom.


In order to reduce the chances of getting pregnant, she could used NFP (natural family planning), in which she would track the days of her most fertile and her least fertile time periods and only have sex in the time period that she is least fertile. However, even using NFP, it is still possible, although unlikely, to become pregnant. So for her own health and safety, it would be most wise to abstain completely until the issue is resolved (if it can be resolved).


This is exactly the conversation that came up, the woman is on Tamaxifen to block estrogen and the man does not want to use birth control because it is not open to procreation (basically telling God that you are not allowing him to create that miracle, a big “FU I know better to God” is how he put it). Yet in a marriage you must be open to procreation. The Deacon said the right answer is abstinence but it is in conflict for the requirement of marriage that a couple be open to life. Sex is also in part to help a couple feel that closeness to be one and they are being told they can never orgasm again and they are young.


natural family planning is not an option because the medication causes a false menopause so there is no way to determine the right time


It’s definitely be a heavy cross to bear, but that’s life.


NFP is not an option because the medication causes a false menopause that is not consistent and therefor you cannot predict the right windows


Then abstinence would be the only acceptable option.


Although I am less educated than many others on the matter, I feel in that particular instance you mentioned, it would be okay. Sex isn’t just about procreation, it’s also about love, a husband is to be devoted to his wife, and vise versa. We are all human beings with desires, that is one of the reasons why we marry, so we can share our love with each other. This reminds me of 1 Corinthians 7:5 “Do not deprive each other, except perhaps by mutual consent for a time, to be free for prayer, but then return to one another, so that Satan may not tempt you through your lack of self-control.” I feel that it is better to use less harmful forms of contraceptive and have sex, rather than to be lusting for others, or pornography. What I mean by less harmful is something that would not jeopardize either person’s health, or is permanent.


My sister actually has a similar situation, if she got pregnant again she could die. She is Catholic but has used contraception, I explained to her Church teaching and that NFP or abstinence is an option, but I don’t know if she listened to me.

She would not be justified in using contraceptives for any reason and neither would anyone else. It is condemned in no uncertain terms in Humanae Vitae.


No method of contraception is 100% effective. The truly loving choice for the husband to make is to abstain for the sake of his wife.


What about jeopardizing the eternal soul of you and your spouse, by killing your child using artificial birth control, when the whole situation could have been avoided by simple abstinence?


Well done for pointing this out to her, but equally point it out to her husband.


How about use of contraception to even out the menstrual cycle? What’s at stake here–morally speaking?


So the problem with this thread is the belief that somehow artificial birth control is 100% effective. It’s not. As I understand it the actual likelihood of having a child after using a condom is surprisingly high after 5 years of marriage. It seems that abstinance would be the scientific and religious best option here.


“Open to life” means that if they have sex they can’t do anything to prevent pregnancy but there is nothing that says they have to have sex.

DISCLAIMER: The views and opinions expressed in these forums do not necessarily reflect those of Catholic Answers. For official apologetics resources please visit